Monson and Hinckley, Optimists or Pessimists?

I am often told that I am a pessimist rather than an optimist.   They could not be more wrong.  I see a wonderful future for the righteous and a horrible future for the wicked.  Is that being a pessimist?  I don’t think so.  I am not a glass half full person.  I am a glass half full and half empty person, you know, reality.  But I am not alone in this.  I am in good company indeed.  Consider these three short scriptural passages.

19 And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day. (Mormon 2:19)

Is this pessimism? Was Moroni a pessimist here? No, he just understood the situation. He knew it was impossible for bad behavior to lead to a good outcome.  Here is an interesting passage from the teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley:

I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. –President Gordon B. Hinckley, January 10, 2004

Was President Gordon B. Hinckley being a pessimist here? No, of course not. He just understood the situation, maybe because he read the scriptures alot over his 95 years in mortality.

So what does President Thomas S. Monson think of all this? Does he disagree with President Hinckley? Here is a passage from October general conference, the one we just had three days ago:

“Behaviors, which once were considered inappropriate and immoral, are now not only tolerated but viewed by ever so many as acceptable,” […] “The message is that morality is passe, conscience is for wimps and the single overriding command is ‘Thou shalt not be found out.'” –Thomas S.Monson, October 2, 2011

I don’t believe that President Monson is being a pessimist or that he is being judgemental. He is just stating facts. He understands the situation. He knows from reading the scriptures,  just as anyone does that the future is bright for those who love the Lord and follow him, but it is dark indeed, for those who don’t. An evil tree always brings forth evil fruit. But it is impossible for a good tree to bring forth evil fruit.

I am not a pessimist.  I am a realist.  And I know what the prophets have said about the wages of sin.


14 Responses to Monson and Hinckley, Optimists or Pessimists?

  1. In a general conference talk the future president of the Church, Harold B. Lee, said “There are no liberals in the Church, just people who don’t have a testimony.” That has long been my feeling.

    The Church has never had a “Vatican” of any kind. That is the terminology of the Roman Catholic Church, not the Church belonging to and founded by the Savior.

    Of course there is little dissent in the Church, and that is a good thing. The truth never contradicts itself. There is only one truth. For this reason dissent always indicates a departure from the truth by those who have an incorrect perception of the truth ie. believe things that are false.

    As the Church has grown larger over the decades since the death of David O. McKay it has become increasingly difficult for the prophets to hold the Church together doctrinally. As the church has spread to other cultures and to a much larger membership, there has been a greater tendency to teach false doctrine among some members. Left unchecked this tendency would assuredly lead to a splitting up of the Church into many denominations just as occurred in the ancient Christian church. The Church leadership must prevent this.

    The Savior was quite explicit. If we are not “one,” we are not his. We must be united and agreed on matter of doctrine and scriptural interpretation. We must all be receiving personal revelation from the Holy Ghost who does not speak with a forked tongue but speaks with one voice. If we do this, we will not disagree on important matters. The Savior not only said that we must be “one” but that if we are not, that we will be cut off and no longer be his covenant people. The idea of liberals and conservatives or Liahonas and Iron Rods in the Church is anathema to God. The promoting of this kind of dissidence, divisiveness and contention is from Satan and not from God.

  2. Ray Sifdol says:

    Mr. Redelfs,

    To sum it all up, all your site really does is favor one President and Prophet (Joseph Fielding Smith) more than other Presidents and Prophets of the Church. That is to say, you prefer or like his teachings the best. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not.

    However, others who demean President Joseph Fielding Smith in any way (intentional or otherwise) are probably guilty of maligning a Prophet, which is far worse than favoring the teachings of one President and Prophet over another. As for McConkie, he was a General Authority, and of course should be respected. However, I don’t think his teachings necessarily eclipse those of other General Authorities through the history of the church.

    Well anyway, good luck.

    • I am very interested in doctrine. Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie spoke and wrote more on doctrine than any other apostles or prophets. I do not like or believe either of them any more than I do the other apostle and prophets including the presidents of the Church.

  3. Ray Sifdol says:

    Mr. Redelfs,

    When you get the time, please take a look at a book by a Church Member Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. titled “Passing the Heavenly Gift” and tell me what you think. He also has his own web site and has written an interesting article “Repentance”. He has written other books. Tell me what you think. He claims that under President David O. McKay, “Mormonism has adopted corporate management techniques to consolidate and direct central church decision-making.” He claims that doctrine has been abandoned.

    • I will try to find a copy of the book you suggest, and get an idea of his message.

      I would like to explain why I have focused this blog on Smith and McConkie.

      First, since I started participating on Internet forums for Latter-day Saints in the summer of 1992, I have run across a lot of bad feelings and prejudice toward these two particular prophets. I have not seen this toward the other prophets. While Bruce R. McConkie was never a president of the Church, his father-in-law Joseph Fielding Smith was. And Bruce R. McConkie was a sustained “prophet, seer and revelator” as a member of the Twelve.

      Second, during my earliest years in the Church I too had bad feelings and prejudices towards these two men. They did not come across well from the pulpit but seemed holier-than-thou, cold and not particularly kind. Then I has a profound, life changing spiritual experience specifically about these two men. The Holy Ghost told me in unmistakable terms that these men were preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ and I should repent of my judgmental attitude toward them. Because of this spiritual experience, my attitude did a flip-flop and I have been a devoted fan ever since.

      Neither of these facts alone would have inspired me to design this blog with the focus I have given it. But I have been offended by much of what I have heard about Smith and McConkie online. I have a testimony of their mission and ministry, and all about me on the Internet people claiming to be good saints bad mouth them.

      So I started this blog to provide some balance to all this “negative press” these two prophets get.

      Early in the years I began participating in the online forums for Latter-day Saints there was much discussion about the difference between “Iron Rods” and “Liahonas.” The Iron Rods are those who seem rigid to some for their steadfast, almost knee-jerk defense of the prophets. The Liahonas on the other hand were more inclined to ask questions, express doubts, and generally find that speaking well of the prophets was blind obedience. Not surprisingly, the first group are conservatives, and the second group are liberals, loosely defined. The original designation of Iron Rod and Liahona as a type of Mormon was given by a history professor at BYU named Richard Poll. His essay (see: struck a chord with many of the so-called Liahonas, and was much discussed online.

      During the earliest years of online discussion, primarily on email discussion lists, most of the online Mormons were Liahonas, academics with PhDs, etc. I was the lone Iron Rod in many of these discussions most of which were about what our Church leaders ought to be doing instead of what they were.

      Well, I always wanted to defend my Iron Rod status and answer the ever present contempt for my views that I encountered in those days. But usually my efforts to defend my views just deteriorated into a virtual brawl and unholy contention. Then I discovered the blogging medium which came later than the email discussion lists. The blog format does not lend itself as well to brawling and contention. It is easier to get ones point across without another getting in ones face with his vehement disagreements.

      But as I see it, I would have no reason to have a blog if it were not to promote and defend my Iron Rod views. That is why I named the blog The Iron Rod. Heaven knows there are a hundred blogs by and for Liahonas and cultural Mormons out there for every one like mine.

      Finally, Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie probably better fit the definition of Iron Rods than any other prophets in Church history. They are not only my heroes, as are all the prophets alive and dead, but they are loved and admired by almost every other person in the Church that I know of who holds my views, primarily temple presidents, stake patriarchs, CES Coordinators, and others who are deeply into the religion.

      I know that the Lord doesn’t like it when we divide up into camps. He has said “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” But there are people trying to destroy the faith of those who find joy in following the prophets. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen it a lot online. If there are forces trying to divide the saints or to pull the Church apart from within, we need to resist their efforts even if it seems like we are throwing gasoline on the fire. The prophets and apostles set the doctrine and administer the Savior’s church. There is no need for grassroots efforts by others to change the teachings or turn the Church out of its course.

      This is probably more explanation that you wanted. I’ll cut it off here. I wish I knew how to be more concise, but I’m not very good at that.

    • Ray Sifdol says:

      On the contrary. Your explanation of why you are doing what you are doing is excellent. I like detailed explanations as long as they are concise and succinct, and all that, which yours is.

      In the end, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is probably undergoing the same trauma as the Roman Catholic Church continues to go through since Vatican II in the 1960s, with people in so called “liberal” and “conservative” camps so to speak. The Presidency of David O. McKay might be the starting point for a “war” between “traditionalists” and “modernists”, although such labels really don’t define much of anything, except that (as you say) one side tends to question everything, and the other supposedly does not.

      Actually, the organization of the LDS is along the lines of the RC Church, with the President filling the role of Pope, and the General Authorities as the College of Cardinals. In any event, the theology of your Church today is not the same theology that the Saints understood or held to be true in the 19th Century. In order to get closer to that you are probably going to have to turn to the teachings of the Mormon Fundamentalist, the late Ogden Kraut. You might want to take a look at what he has to say.

      In the meantime, take care. Talk to you later.

  4. Ray Sifdol says:

    Mr. Redelfs,

    Let me suggest that you change the title of your site to something along the lines of “Mormon or Latter-day Saints Doctrine in the Tradition of the Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints With Special Concentration on the teachings of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce McConkie” Too long!?
    Probably so.

    I realize that you might think it will ruin the uniqueness of your site, but I don’t think so. I don’t think so, because your site is already unique anyway, except that you lean heavily on Bruce McConkie and President Joseph Fielding Smith. Why not stick to the teachings of the Presidents of the Church and quote from them, and encourage people to read what they have said?

    And let me say that there is a good book store out there with many books available by and about the Presidents of the Church, and at very reasonable rates. That is Confetti Antiques and Books in Spanish Fork, Utah. You have probably already heard of it.

    OR, if you want to bring in some other people (besides McConkie) there is a lot out there on people like Neal Maxwell, and James Faust and so on, not to mention prominent Mormons going back over a hundred years. There is also a site dedicated to the writings of General Authorities, past and present.

    Please consider this suggestion.

    Thanks. God Bless and have a very good day.

    • Ray Sifdol says:

      Let me add to this by saying that concentrating on the teachings of the Presidents of the Church as they are in concord with each other might just be the best approach.

      I think that by concentrating on President Joseph Fielding Smith alone tends to be a bad idea from the onset. I say this, because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now on its 16th President, and each one has had a special area he emphasized, anything from temples, to missionary work, to scouting and so on and so on.

      Also, each one always has to say something in praise of the other, and all have something to say about the founder Joseph Smith.


  5. Ray Sifdol says:

    Mr. Redelfs,

    Just a couple of things and than I will get off your site for ever, since I am not LDS anyway, and I suspect that anyone who is not LDS is automatically suspected of being an “enemy of the church” even if they are not. Come to think of it, it was not all that long ago that some LDS intellectuals were excommunicated for failure to tow the line. Juanita Brooks who told the truth about the Mountain Meadows Massacre would have been excommunicated had it not been for President David O. McKay.

    With that said, let me call your attention to an article about your Hero Elder Bruce R. McConkie (the son-in-law of President Joseph Fielding Smith) titled “Maligning McConkie.” You will like this article since the author apparently regards McConkie as a hero also.
    The author states that the book “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism” by Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright “wrongfully discredits and defames Edler Bruce R. McConkie.” Find it and read it!

    On that note, you might be interested in something on Hugh B. Brown (died 1975) that I like and you probably won’t. Brown was called to the First Presidency in 1963 when the first counselor Henry D. Moyle died. “After David O. McKay died on January 8, 1970, Brown was NOT called by new Church President Joseph Fielding Smith (son of the son of Hyrum Smith who was the brother of Prophet Joseph Smith) to be a member of the First Presidency. Never before in the twentieth century had a new President of the Church failed to call a surviving member of the previous First Presidency as a counselor.” In a biography on Brown it is inferred that this move (by President Joseph Fielding Smith) may have been (in part) “because Brown favored rescinding the “Negro Doctrine” which was also blocked by Harold B. Lee.” Thus, Brown returned as a memeber of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, where he remained until his death.

    Take care and Goodbye and Good Luck in promoting the Iron Rod
    of Mormon Conservativism. I’m surprised you are not also a “fan” of President Ezra Taft Benson. Thanks again for the opportunity to post.

    • Ray, if I have offended you in any way, I apologize. I cannot imagine why you are swearing off participating on my blog as if it were some kind of bad habit. I have thoroughly enjoyed your contribution to our conversations as I’m sure others have. I certainly do not suspect anyone who is not a member of the Church to be an enemy. I have many brothers and sisters who are not members of the Church and I love them with all my heart, especially Mike with whom I play a lot of World of Warcraft. They are certainly not my enemies.

      I have read Maligning McConkie. I also own and have read David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. I found it to be strongly biased in favor of Bruce R. McConkie’s enemies and not at all objective about the apostle. It only told one side of the story, and that was the the negative side. There is another side that in my opinion is more valid. It is called The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son by Joseph Fielding McConkie. It is not unbiased either, but it tells the other side of the story. Obviously McConkie’s son loved him. How could he be unbiased? Have you read this book? One of the things I learned from it was that Elder McConkie had permission from David O. McKay to publish the Second Edition of Mormon Doctrine if he let Spencer W. Kimball mentor him. This you would never learn from the book by Prince. He just left it out, probably on purpose. It is dishonest to mislead a reader by leaving out material that is essential to understanding. One can lie by saying what is untrue. One can also lie by deliberately leaving out what is true and essential to the discussion.

      As for the information on Hugh B. Brown, that is new information for me. I wonder if it is true? Imputing unstated motives to others is risky if one is interested in truth, that is, it is unless the person doing it is a mind reader. I am also famliar with the biography of Hugh B. Brown by his grandson, the prominent Salt Lake City attorney Edwin B. Firmage. I have not read it because I strongly suspect it of being evern more strongly slanted and of doubtful veracity than the book by Greg Prince. Many of the crowd that most admires these men are hard core leftists or “Progressives” and most Progressives are not famous for their honesty.

      As for my blog the Iron Rod of Conservatism. That is not the name of my blog although I am indeed conservative both religiously and politically. And you need not be surprised about my view of Ezra Taft Benson. He is indeed one of my greatest heroes and the author of my politics. Furthermore I am unaware that he ever taught anything during the fifty years he was an apostle and then President of the Church that was not in perfect harmony with everything taught by the other prophets of God. Most of those who allege such differences are unable to produce much if any reliable evidence. Other Presidents of the Church may have disagreed with him on issues, but only a mind reader could say so with any credibility because to the best of my knowledge they never disagreed with him publicly, and those who talk about what goes on behind closed doors often have reasons to mispresent what was said in private.

      I wish you would continue to comment on my blog, but do what you feel you must. I have always wondered why a nonmember who knows as much as you do about the inner workings of the Church would not become a Latter-day Saint. My brothers and sisters are not members, and though I love them, I have always felt that spiritually they were mildly handicapped. I’m sure there are others who fall into that category.

    • Ray Sifdol says:


      I will certainly reconsider posting on your blog.

      I attended Primary for many years out in Oregon where I grew up. For quite a while I was the only non-Mormon kid in the classes I attended and the first to memorize the 13 Articles of Faith. However, when it came to baptism time my parents said absolutely not and made me return to the Methodist Church which bored me to tears. Consequently and subsequently, when I joined the Air Force I never did attend any church, but I never did forget my “Mormon Experience”. I had other chances to join The Church but never did.

    • Ray Sifdol says:


      Good Morning. I will reconsider posting on your site.

      I suppose one can say that there is never really any excuse for failure to join The Church. Many years ago my parents allowed me to attend Primary since a Mormon lady my mother knew asked if I could. Actually, I attended for many years and as I recall, the only non-Mormon in the classes, and the first to memorize the 13 Articles of Faith. However, come Baptism time, my parents said absolutely not, and made me return to the Methodist Church which bored me to no end. After I finished College and joined the Air Force I never attended any church. Through the years since then

  6. I don’t have the time at this moment to look it up, but the Savior in our scriptures told us that if we were not “one,” we were not his. That is, we have to be a united people in following the Lord and believing his teachings. That is one of the most important reasons for having prophets.

    Now it is true David O. McKay was a kind and gentle man as he came across in public. But we should remember that he was the mortal head of the Church at a time when the Church was still relatively small compared with today, and most Mormons lived in the intermountain west. The Church grew and it became an international Church with stakes all over the world.

    You can imagine how much harder it is to keep the membership united in following Christ today than it was then. The larger and more diverse the Church membership become, the more difficult it is to keep it from flying apart like a grinding wheel being turned beyond its rated RPMs.

    Dissenters, apostates, wolves in sheep’s clothing, enemies of the Church, and there are many and always have been, work hard to divide the membership against itself. They would like to create civil war among the saints. Well, the Prophet must not let them. That is part of his primary job, to spiritually defend the saints and more importantly to teach them how to defend themselves spiritually.

    In any case, it doesn’t surprise me that the presidents of the Church in more recent times have been more strict and firm. Of course, if you want to go back far enough, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and their successors were a great deal more strict and firm than President McKay too. And I just suspect that President McKay was more strict and firm than his kind and gentle demeanor suggested. And I have talked to many saints who knew Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie and other prophets since David O. McKay, and they testify that these men who seemed so severe in public were quite the opposite in person.

  7. Ray Sifdol says:

    October 17, 2011 Monday

    There are times when I think that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went through a Vatican II with the Presidency of David O. McKay. Even non-“Mormons” such as myself loved the dear, sweet man that he was. Perhaps I should say the dear, sweet, man that he is, since his teachings linger in the minds of those who were close to conversion but never joined the church when he passed on, and a completely new Presidency took over, not only under Joseph Fielding Smith, but every Presidency since then. About all I can say to qualify this is that there seems to be a lot less toleration for any kind of dissent in the church since President McKay passed on. That just might be a totally harsh and unjustified opinion since all of the Presidents of the Church don’t cancel each other out because some are more “liberal” and some more “conservative”. Nevertheless, I felt a change in the Church since the McKay Days, and with every approach and consideration I ever had about joining up.

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